He­li­copter pi­lot pest erad­i­ca­tion ex­pert

Central Otago Mirror - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - DEB­BIE JAMIESON

Wanaka man Peter Gar­den started his fly­ing ca­reer as an agri­cul­tural pi­lot in South­land and went on to be­come one of the world’s pre-em­i­nent erad­i­ca­tion he­li­copter pi­lots.

The 70-year-old has been made an Of­fi­cer of the New Zealand Or­der of Merit for ser­vices to avi­a­tion and con­ser­va­tion and said it was cir­cum­stances that led him to the work he is be­ing recog­nised for.

‘‘I’m not do­ing any­thing that other pi­lots couldn’t do but I’ve had op­por­tu­ni­ties sim­ply be­cause I’ve had ex­pe­ri­ence on these projects.’’

Early on he spent quite a lot of time work­ing for the Wildlife Ser­vices and later Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion, par­tic­u­larly with en­dan­gered species in­clud­ing the kakapo.

Work­ing with new GPS tech­nol­ogy and newly de­vel­oped tox­ins, his team started pest and rat erad­i­ca­tion work around the South­land Coast and on Cod­fish Is­land.

One suc­cess­ful pro­gramme fol­lowed an­other. He was chief pi­lot for preda­tor erad­i­ca­tion on the sub-Antarc­tic Camp­bell Is­land, and lead pi­lot for var­i­ous Habi­tat En­hance­ment Pro­grammes in­ter- na­tion­ally, in­clud­ing the Pa­cific Is­lands, the Sey­chelles and the Aleu­tian Is­lands.

From 2013 to 2015 Gar­den was he­li­copter ad­vi­sor and flight op­er­a­tions man­ager for South Ge­or­gia Her­itage Trust for the erad­i­ca­tion of rats from South Ge­or­gia Is­land, in the United States, dur­ing the fi­nal phases of the five year project.

He has re­cently been in­volved with es­tab­lish­ing a new com­pany ad­vis­ing on sim­i­lar work and is still out fly­ing when he can.

‘‘I still hold New Zealand and Amer­i­can com­mer­cial pi­lot’s li­censes and have been work­ing this year in the Car­ribean.’’

His com­pany had a con­tract for the An­tipodes land mass erad­i­ca­tion job and he has a project com­ing up in the Gala­pa­gos Is­lands. ‘‘There’s a real ap­petite for do­ing these projects now.’’

Gar­den has also held po­si­tions as he­li­copter safety coun­sel­lor and chair­man of the He­li­copter Di­vi­sion for the Avi­a­tion In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion of New Zealand, chair­man of the Steer­ing Com­mit­tee of the New Zealand He­li­copter As­so­ci­a­tion, avi­a­tion ad­vi­sor to New Zealand Land Search and Res­cue and a found­ing trustee of South­ern Re­gion Air Am­bu­lance Trust and the Forest Hill Foun­da­tion.

Wanaka man Peter Gar­den is re­garded as one of the world’s pre-em­i­nent erad­i­ca­tion he­li­copter pi­lots.

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